Monday, January 17, 2011

Lessons From a Tragedy In Arizona

Tucson is still a grief-stricken community after the supermarket massacre that saw gruesome injuries and several fatalities. Among those attacked were some well-know public figures, and others not. It will go down as a day of infamy, but far more importantly as a painful reminder of serious and biblical principles.

None that were involved likely gave a second’s thought that a beautiful Arizona day would turn into a bloody national atrocity. Those who lost their lives, or almost did, ran the spectrum from a U.S. Congresswoman, to a federal judge, an elderly pastor and even a precious 9-year old girl – one who was just beginning her life and fledgling interest in the political system.

Many passages of Scripture were quoted in a memorial service for the victims and their families last week. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano read from the Old Testament and Attorney General Eric Holder quoted from the New. Even the President made reference to Bible texts in his moving words of comfort and hope about the incident.

But one verse certainly characterized the event as much or more as any. It comes from the wisdom book of Proverbs 27:1 and declares, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” It is a lesson that many learn too late in life because so few ever expect their lives to be snuffed out so suddenly and unexpectedly. This time around it was once again a vivid reminder that this life’s status, current health condition, and even age, have little to do with being ready to face, at a moment’s notice, the Creator who resides and reigns in eternity. Hebrews 9:27 could not make this truth any more clear or concise. “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”

But there is always one major question that lingers when such a painful and unimaginable event occurs. That is simply the spiritual readiness of those who lost their lives and were instantly brought face to face with the One who created them and gave them physical life before their death.

It is interesting that, when the ultimate crisis in life comes, so many seem to revert back to some kind of Scriptural logic. They somehow instinctively know that there is something beyond this life. (Romans 1:19) And for any public biblical reference, we should be thankful since there still remains some sense of God’s presence in what has become largely a post-Christian nation.

But the type of biblical reading and reminders, after this kind of senseless event happens, should include passages like John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” 1 John 5:11-12 would be another good choice or addition. “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Among those who were attacked in Tucson were a lawmaker and one who made judgments based on the principles of law. This, too, is a reminder to Christians of another key biblical passage. It is one that relates to salvation using a legal term referring to the ultimate preparation for the moment one enters eternity and faces the Creator and judge of all the earth.

“And if anyone sins, we have an ‘Advocate’ with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)

A deranged killer might brutally and callously end the life of others in a moment of illogical rage and evil. But those found in Christ are always properly prepared for even a moment like that according to Jesus’ own words in John 10:28-29. “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”

Bill Breckenridge

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